Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 85

Five Chechens were killed yesterday during a confrontation with Russian Interior Ministry troops. The incident took place near the village of Zakan-Yurt, after the troops stopped a car for inspection. The five people inside the car reportedly “resisted” and were killed. Two grenade launchers and ammunition were reportedly found in the car afterwards. Meanwhile, special forces from the Federal Security Service (FSB) and army yesterday continued carrying out a special operation to “neutralize” forces headed by Arbi Baraev, the infamous Chechen rebel field commander, near the town of Alkhan-Kala. The office of Sergei Yastrzhembsky, President Vladimir Putin’s adviser on information policy, reported yesterday that several fighters from Baraev’s unit were killed, but that the rebel field commander himself had managed to escape. Yastrzhembsky’s office reported that the Russian side had incurred no losses during the operation (Radio Liberty, May 2; Russian agencies, May 1). At the same time, the OMON special police unit belonging to the pro-Moscow administration in Chechnya carried out a raid on the central market in Djohar [Grozny], the Chechen capital. Although no one was arrested during the operation, the unit’s commander, Musa Gazimagomadov, was meant to be a “warning” against criminals and a demonstration to those working in the market and using it that the unit would protect them. The market has been the site of some of the recent murders of Russian-speaking residents in the capital (NTV, May 1).

On April 30, Turko Khuziev, described as the head of a Chechen rebel unit, was killed after resisting capture in the Shali region. The FSB reported that a local woman was killed and four security personnel and seven civilians wounded when a grenade Khuziev had hidden on his person detonated. Khuziev’s capture and death took place when officials from the FSB, Interior Ministry and prosecutor’s office searched his residence in the town of Shali and discovered grenades, ammunition and wiring used in explosive devices deployed against federal troops. Khuziev had allegedly been planning to carry out terrorist actions against local government officials and military servicemen on May 1. Commenting on the incident, a source in the FSB told the Interfax news agency: “It has been established that Khuziev was deputy to one of the [rebel] band leaders Rezvan Chitigov, who is suspected of collaboration with American military intelligence and is a close associate of the Jordanian terrorist Khattab” (Russian agencies, May 1).

Meanwhile, the Chechen rebel website,, claimed yesterday that rebel forces had carried out three attacks on Russian troops. The first targeted a column of Russian armored personnel carriers in between the towns of Vedeno and Tsa-Vedeno. The rebel website claimed six APCs were destroyed, while twenty-five Russian soldiers were killed and at least thirty wounded. The second reportedly took place along the road to the town of Elistanzhi, when a Russian armored column was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades after being halted by radio-controlled mines. claimed that four Russian APCs were destroyed and more than twenty Russian troops were killed. The third alleged attack on Russian troops took place on the road between the towns of Tsatsan-Yurt and Mesker-Yurt, when a “mobile unit of Chechen fighters” ambushed an “automobile column of the aggressors.” Twelve Russian soldiers were killed, according to The website claimed that that only two rebels were killed and seven wounded in all three attacks (, May 1), none of which were reported in the Russian media.

Some of the claims by Yaztrzhembsky’s office and the Russian media, on the one hand, and, on the other, suggest that the propaganda war, like the shooting one, is continuing at full steam and shows no sign of letting up. Some observers have noted that NTV–the television channel formerly controlled by Vladimir Gusinsky’s Media-Most and now by Gazprom, the state-controlled natural gas monopoly–has begun covering the Chechen conflict in a way very much like the two state-controlled television channels. That is, with no attempt made to question official claims and little attention to the war’s toll on Chechnya’s civilian population. Last year, Rem Vyakhirev, the head of Gazprom who was recently made a member of NTV’s board of directors, said it was “inappropriate” for NTV to criticize the military operation in Chechnya (see the Monitor, February 17, 2000).